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Opera Libretti

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Title Page
Title Page
Act 1
Act 2
Act 3

Act I
Scene 1
An Epinicion, or Song of Triumph, for the Victory over Goliath and the Philistines.
Soprano, Alto, Tenore, Basso
How excellent Thy name, O Lord,
In all the World is known!
Above all Heav’ns, O King ador’d,
How hast thou set thy glorious Throne!
An Infant rais’d by thy Command,
To quell thy Rebel Foes,
Cou’d fierce Goliah’s dreadful hand
Superior in the Fight oppose.
Alto, Tenore, Basso
Along the Monster Atheist strode,
With more than Human Pride,
And Armies of the Living God
Exulting in his Strength defy’d.
Soprano, Alto, Tenore, Basso
The Youth inspir’d by Thee, O Lord,
With Ease the Boaster slew,
Our fainting Courage soon restor’d,
And headlong drove that impious Crew.
Soprano, Alto, Tenore, Basso
How excellent thy name, O Lord,
In all the World is known!
Above all Heav’ns, O King, ador’d,
How hast thou set thy glorious Throne!
Scene 2
Saul, Jonathan, Merab, Michal and Abner, introducing David, High Priest.
He comes!
O God-like Youth! by all confess’d,
Of Human Race the Pride!
O Virgin among Women blest,
Whom Heav’n ordains thy Bride!
But ah! how strong a Bar I see
Betwixt my Happiness and me!
God-like youth …
Behold, O King, the brave, victorious Youth,
And in his Hand the haughty Giant’s Head.
Young Man, whose Son art thou?
The Son of Jesse, Thy faithful Servant, and a Bethlemite
Return no more to Jesse: stay with me.
And as an Earnest of my future Favour,
Thou shalt espouse my Daughter: Small Reward
Of such Desert! since to thy Arm alone
We owe our Safety, Peace and Liberty.
O King, your Favours with Delight
I take, but must refuse your Praise:
For ev’ry pious Israelite
to God alone that Tribute pays.
Through Him we put to flight our Foes,
and in his Name
we trod them under that against us rose.
O early Piety! O modest Merit!
In this Embrace my Heart bestows itself.
Henceforth, thou noble Youth,
Accept my Friendship,
And Jonathan and David are but one.
What abject Thoughts a Prince can have,
In Rank a Prince! in Mind a Slave!
Merab (Aside, to Jonathan)
Yet think with whom this Honour you bestow;
How poor in Fortune, and in Birth how low!
Jonathan (To Merab)
Birth and Fortune I despise!
From Virtue let my Friendship rise.
(To David)
No Titles proud thy Stem adorn;
Yet born of God is nobly born:
And of his Gifts so rich thy Store,
That Ophir to thy Wealth is poor.
Birth and Fortune…
High Priest
Go on, illustrious Pair ! your great Example
Shall teach our Youth to scorn the sordid world,
And set their Hearts on Things of real Worth.
High Priest
While yet thy Tide of Blood runs high,
To God thy future life devote:
Thy early Vigour all apply
His Glorious Service to promote.
So shall thy Great Creator bless,
And bid thy Days serenely flow:
So shall thy youthful Happiness
In Age no Diminution know.
With sweet Reflection thou shalt taste,
Declining gently to thy Tomb,
The Pleasure of good Actions past
And hope with Rapture Joys to come.
Recitative Saul
Thou, Merab, first in Birth, be first in Honour:
Thine be the vallant Youth, whose Arm has sav’d
Thy Country from her Foes.
Merab (aside)
O mean Alliance!
My Soul rejects the Thought with scorn,
That such a Boy, ‘till now unknown,
Of poor, plebeian Parents born,
Should mix with Royal blood his own!
Tho’ Saul’s Commands I can’t decline,
I must prevent his low Design,
And save the Honour of his Line.
See with what a scornful Air
She the precious Gift receives!
Tho’ e’er so Noble, or so Fair ,
she cannot merit what he gives.
Ah, lovely Youth! wast thou design’d
With that proud Beauty to be join’d?
Scene 3
Saul, Michal and Chorus of Women.
Already see the Daughters of the Land,
In joyful Dance, with Instruments of Musick,
Come to congratulate your Victory.
Soprano I, Soprano II, Alto
Welcome, welcome, mighty King!
Welcome all who Conquest bring!
Welcome David, warlike boy,
Author of our present Joy!
Saul, who hast thy Thousands slain,
Welcome to thy friends again!
David his Ten Thousands slew,
Ten thousand praises are his due!
Soprano I, Soprano II, Alto,
Tenore I, Tenore II, Basso
Ten thousand praises are his due,
Ten thousand praises are his due!
What do I hear? Am I then sunk so low,
To have this upstart boy preferr’d before me?
Soprano, Alto, Tenore, Basso
David his Ten Thousands slew,
Ten thousands praises are his due!
To him Ten Thousands! And to me but Thousands?
What can they give him more? Except the Kingdom?
With Rage I shall burst his Praises to hear!
Oh! how I both hate the Stripling, and fear!
What Mortal a Rival in Glory can bear?
Scene 4
Jonathan, Michal, High Priest
Imprudent Women! your ill-tim’d Comparisons,
I fear, have injur’d him you meant to honour.
Saul’s furious Look, as he departed hence,
Too plainly shew’d the Tempest of his Soul.
Michal (to David)
’Tis but his old Disease, which thou canst cure.
O take thy Harp, and as thou oft hast done,
From the King’s Breast expel the raging Fiend,
And sooth his tortur’d Soul with Sounds Divine.
(Exit David)
Fell Rage and black Despair  possest
With horrid Sway the Monarch’s Breast;
When David with Celestial Fire
Struck the sweet persuasive Lyre:
Soft gliding down his ravish’d Ears,
The healing Sounds dispel his Cares;
Despair  and Rage at once are gone,
And Peace and Hope resume the Throne.
High Priest
This but the smallest part of Harmony,
Great Attribute of Attributes Divine,
And Centre of the Rest, where all agree:
Whose wond’rous Force, what great Effects proclaim!
High Priest
By thee this Universal Frame
From its Almighty Maker’s Hand
In primitive Perfection came,
By thee produc’d, in thee contain’d:
No sooner did th’ Eternal Word dispense
Thy vast mysterious Influence,
Than Chaos his old Discord ceas’d.
Nature began, of labour eas’d,
Her latent Beauties to disclose,
A fair harmonious World arose;
And tho’, by diabolick guile,
Disorder lord it for a while,
The Time will come,
When Nature shall her pristine Form regain,
And Harmony for ever reign.
Scene 5
Saul, David, Jonathan, Merab, Abner
Rack’d with Infernal Pains, ev’n now the King
Comes forth, and mutters horrid Words, which Hell,
No human Tongue, has taught him.
O Lord, whose Mercies numberless
O’er all thy Works prevail,
Tho’ daily Man thy law Transgress,
Thy Patience cannot fail:
If yet his Sin be not too great,
The busy Fiend controll;
Yet longer for Repentance wait,
And heal his wounded Soul.
Fly, malicious Spirit, fly;
Own the Pow’r of Harmony;
To thy native Hell retire!
Gracious Lord, his Pain assuage,
And instead of burning Rage,
With thy Peace his Mind inspire.
’Tis all in vain; his Fury still continues:
With wild Distraction on my Friend he stares,
Stamps on the Ground,
And seems intent on Mischief.
A Serpent, in my Bosom warm’d,
Would sting me to the Heart;
But of his Venom soon disarm’d,
Himself shall feel the Smart.
Ambitious Boy! now learn what Danger
It is to rouse a Monarch’s Anger!
(He throws his javelin. Exit David.)
Has he escap’d my Rage?
I charge thee, Jonathan, upon thy Duty,
And All, on your Allegiance, to destroy
This bold, aspiring Youth;
For while he lives, I am not safe.
Reply not, but obey.
Capricious Man, in Humour lost,
By ev’ry Wind of Passion toss’d!
Now sets his Vassal on the Throne,
Then low as Earth he casts him down;
His Temper knows no middle State,
Scene 6
Jonathan, High Priest, Chorus
O Filial Piety! O Sacred Friendship!
How shall I reconcile you?
Cruel Father!
Your just Commands I always have obey’d:
But to destroy my Friend! The Brave, the Virtuous,
The God-like David! Israel’s Defender, and Terror to her Foes!
To disobey you – what shall I call it? –
’Tis an Act of Duty to God – to David
– Nay, indeed to You.
No, cruel Father, no:
Your hard Commands I can’t obey.
Shall I with sacrilegious Blow
Take Pious David’s Life away!
No, cruel Father, no!
No; with my Life I must defend
Against the World my best, my dearest friend.
High Priest
O Lord, whose Providence
Ever wakes for their Defence
Who the Ways of Virtue choose;
Let not thy faithful Servant fall
A Victim to the Rage of Saul,
Who hates without a Cause,
And, in Defiance of thy Laws,
His precious Life pursues.
Soprano, Alto, Tenore, Basso
Preserve him for the Glory of thy Name,
Thy People’s Safety, and the Heathen’s Shame.


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